On Finding Strength in Simplicity and Simplicity in Strength: In Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood

The only way to love is to give to a kind of lif that brings bliss, melancholy, and a longing for the light at the end of a tunnel.

We’re happier set free than we are caged. Figurative, of course, is the enclosure of our feelings and experiences that we become so intimate with. And in considering why that is, I’ve observed, the present starts to look much more forgiving and profound than when observed by looking back at our memories. Reading Murakami’s Norwegian Wood for the second time put me in a haze so vivid and satisfying that I never wanted to put the book down.

A verse from the book:

“I didn’t have much to say to anybody but kept to myself and my books. With my eyes closed, I would touch a familiar book and draw its fragrance deep inside me. This was enough to make me happy.”

After all, the simplest things in life are enough to keep us happy. As Murakami writes, “We all just keep doing the same things.” Some may not perceive it this way, but passages like these are so imaginative and profound that they draw a parallel. A parallel into the pursuit of another life in which we’re seen mirroring the same inwardness and openness to our existence. Only here, in this world, we’re creatures devoid of possibilities and coincidences.

I want to believe that there are no coincidences in life. That the beauty in existing is in appreciating our own reflections in everything around us. In accepting life the way it serves the bitter or sweet or tasteless flavors. And that saying everything we do has meaning is a less painful way of believing that we care too deeply.

“We all just keep doing the same things.”

Maybe that’s the only way one musters strength in life and death. Reliving any moment in words is revivifying but reliving them still brings with it a kind of soreness in the want to feeling something. Simple verses, like the ones you read in Norwegian Wood, are unexampled pillars by which the pains of others are understood. And in doing so, I am healed of the piercing twinge in my soul.

I imagine a meadow at the cusp of bearing sunshine and warmth. With a kind of simple strangeness that envelopes an open field. As I take a closer look, life begins its journey feeling a little simpler and much less convoluted.

Maybe that’s all Norwegian Wood does. The book wants us to unravel in the celebration of simplicity within simplicity. Of loving and being without conditions and of letting go of the hurtful aspects of life only to embrace it on a more fundamental level. The book wants us to live. Each day, getting closer to the open field, and slightly transformed into a meadow with an essence of its own.

There is longing, delicate and infinite in each word, sentence, and chapter. With a hint of acceptance, innocence, and compassion. So, what happens and when it happens are only the natural courses of life. It is our natural course. And embracing the extraordinary workings of the world around us makes our own lives so strange and beautiful.

So, in entertaining such a thought, the boundaries of the meadow expand and answer to our most mechanical question: What is life? The answer is a speck of dust on a clean, spotless surface. And this governs the law of our place in the world.